privet-drive-harry-potter

Harry Potter Studio Tour review

It’s 15 years since the film Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone came out and having watched the film recently with the twins, it is still as gripping and fascinating as it was the first time I watched it with Tommy and Megan.

J.K Rowling really did have an excellent idea the day she wrote her notes down on a scrap of paper whilst sitting on a delayed train. She has captivated the world with her stories ever since and I love watching the twins work their way through her books. Alice is currently on the 4th book, The Order of the Phoenix and Bessie is polishing off  the 3rd, The Goblet of Fire. We keep on at her to finish so we can sit down and watch the third film together.

As a special treat for the girls I arranged with Warner Bros to take the girls to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford. They are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film and as you can imagine there are a lot of extras to be had on the tour.

The twins were wowed from the car park onwards and didn’t tire of touring all day long. In fact they are still talking about it now and took their Harry Potter passports into school to show their friends.

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What is the Harry Potter Studio Tour?

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a trip behind the scenes to see the sets, make up, costumes, props and the area of creativity where the filming took place. It was an amazing day out and one I am sure we shall repeat at some point as the girls work their way through the other books.

From the moment you start your tour you are guided through the history of the film making by tour guides who are incredibly knowledgeable and can answer all of your questions as you follow the tour.

harry-potter-cloaks-Harry Potter Studio Tour review

It all starts with a film and explanation, the history is just as fascinating as the sets themselves, there is so much to take in you certainly won’t be bored.

The tour leads you through the sets and in celebration of the 15th Anniversary there are special extras on the way through. The girls were intrigued to see how the letters flying through the letterbox of Privet Drive was created and they got to take a letter home each with special Hogwarts seal on it too.

Harry Potter Passports

The girls were handed a passport each at the front desk and told to look out for hidden snitches as we followed the tour around. This made the tour even more interactive for them. They also really enjoyed finding the machines to get their passports stamped although dad and I had to step in to make sure they embossed the pages properly.

What does Butterbeer taste like?

butterbeer-Harry Potter Studio Tour review

I was determined to try it and we decided on one glass of butterbeer and two butterbeer ice creams for the girls.

I really enjoyed it although the girls and dad didn’t. The way I’d describe it is a sweet fizzy drink that’s not over fizzy with a similar taste to cola and on top a thick creamy head that lasts right to the bottom of the glass. Think of a coke float but the cream doesn’t melt. If I return I shall definitely order another and maybe even get a souvenir glass next time.

The Broomstick video

Harry Potter Studio Tour review

This was another must on our first visit and both twins thoroughly enjoyed it. First we had a photo taken with our cloaks on and wands and then we followed the queue around and the girls got to sit on a broomstick and make their own video. Be warned this is not cheap though. We payed £60 for the two USB sticks and one photo.

The Harry Potter shop

honeydukes-Harry Potter Studio Tour review

It is a huge shop and if you don’t stay together you will likely lose each other. You can find all sorts of memorabilia from wands (£26.95), to clothes to notebooks, to fridge magnets. There is something for everyone including a lot of sweets from Honeydukes. This then brings you out to the entrance hall where it all started.

Our verdict of the Harry Potter Studio Tour

EXCELLENT. Top marks from all of us, dad grumbled about the prices in the shop. He also grumbled at the queues for the various photo stops and broomstick flying but he always does that.

In his defence, if you can go on a school day I imagine it would be much quieter, I’d also advise being on the first tour or one towards the later part of the day. Our tour started at 10am and we didn’t exit the tour until gone 2pm. We stopped for lunch in Backlot Cafe and ordered mac n cheese for the girls and hot dogs for us (go easy on the mustard as it is hot!)

One tour guide told us the longest amount of time some guests stayed on the tour was 13 hours and you will see some hardcore Harry Potter fans whilst you are there.

Disclosure: We were given a family entrance ticket to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.

ARGO DVD coverOn Saturday night “my husband and I” (I’ve been dying to write that) watched ARGO on DVD, kindly sent to us by Warner Bros for the purpose of this review.

It is the most incredible story and what’s even more amazing is that it’s based on a true story which happened back in 1979, an idea that if you heard it you wouldn’t believe it.

ARGO script choice

The U.S Embassy in Tehran is overtaken by the Iranian Revolution but six Americans manage to escape, they seek refuge in the Canadian embassy but it is impossible to get them out alive. So Tony Mendez, a CIA agent, dreams up the cover of a film crew on location in Tehran using the hostages as members of his film crew.

ARGO ben affleck CIA agent Tony Mendez

It’s an absurd idea isn’t it? That’s what Jimmy Carter, the president of the USA at the time thought too and whilst Mendez is out there and almost has his plan in place, Carter pulls the OK.

This film had me on the edge of my seat and the fact that the script of ARGO is really abominable too makes it even more unbelieveable but it did happen. I can totally see why this film got so many awards – see the list below – and I am in even more awe (if that was ever possible) of Ben Affleck. What a genius.

ARGO _ Ben Affleck director

ARGO’s impressive award list

·         BAFTA Award for Best Film

·         BAFTA Award for Best Direction

·         BAFTA Award for Best Editing

·         Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture- Drama

·         Golden Globe Award for Best Director – Motion Picture

·         Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year

·         Academy Award for Best Achievement in Editing

·         Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

ARGO the hostages

In case you’re intrigued you can buy a copy of the ARGO DVD on Amazon I’d thoroughly recommend it.

Scooby Doo

Calling all Scooby Doo fans

With my head still in cuckoo land after our fabulous wedding on Saturday I have been reminded by my girls, yet again ‘Can you put our new Scooby DVD on please mummy?’

Of course I can, they love it and it frees me up some time to catch up, and trust me there is an ENORMOUS catch up to do. Last night I had to tell myself to come away from the laptop after hours of trawling through 700+ emails that got put to one side last week.

Anyway Scooby Doo – Mask of the Blue Falcon has come in very handy since Warner Brothers sent it through a couple of weeks ago.

The minute it goes on, little people are captured and stay in one place nice and quiet for a bit which let’s face it is fundamental sometimes.

Scooby and the gang are attending a gigantic comic book convention when a real life comic book villain attacks! Now they have to solve the mystery before the villain ruins the convention and a big comic book movie premier.

Herculoids, Frankenstein Jr. and Space Ghost are a few of the celebrity comic book characters headlining the convention plus Scooby-Doo’s and Shaggy’s all time favourite super heroes, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt.

The villain Mr Hyde unleashes monster bats, howling hounds and smile on the festivities so Mystery Incorporated have to follow the clues and set monster traps.

If you have Scooby-Doo fans then they’re going to love this latest DVD by Warner Bros

ella sammy's great escape

On Sunday we were invited up to Leicester Square to watch a 3D screening of Sammy’s Great Escape, the new animated film by Warner Bros due out for half term, 15th February.

This film follows on from Turtle’s Tale and with a new set of characters a generation on, here’s an idea of what happens –

Sammy and Ray, leatherback turtles and friends forever, are enjoying an atoll’s water and sand, shepherding new hatchlings Ricky and Ella out to sea. Suddenly, a poacher swoops in and ships them off to be part of a spectacular aquarium show for tourists in Dubai. The kingpin of the place, Big D the seahorse, enlists them in his plans for a great escape. But with their new friends Jimbo the bug-eyed blob fish, Lulu the snippy lobster and a whole family of penguins, Sammy and Ray hatch breakout plans of their own. That is when little Ricky and Ella arrive, determined to break in to rescue them. After a series of thrilling adventures and narrow escapes, our heroes head south to meet up with Shelly, Sammy’s first and only love.

The girls sat with their 3D glasses on gripped to the screen and Bessie was fascinated with the fish swimming towards her, the sea plants swaying and almost touching her head as we ‘swam’ through the sea with the fish. Even more thrilling was the seagull pooh attack which made them giggle and trust me there is one part when I jumped out of my seat and grabbed the girls to sit with me before we had tears.

Aquarium2-SMY2

The animation is fantastic, you’ll be amazed by it. It’s very cleverly written with plenty of humour to keep the adults smiling too and the story line includes the goodies and the baddies, the funny and the sweet.

We loved it and we’d thoroughly recommend it.

Warner Brothers have sent Rosie and I a few flicks to watch over Christmas and I’ve put them all to one side ready with an unopened box of chocs.

Rosie arrives Christmas Eve afternoon (with her mum, dad and brother) she’s dead excited about the whole Christmas thing and has been counting down since 88 days ago via her Facebook account tagging me each day to remind me just how excited she is.

The twins are very excited about having her over too as they will have someone to paint their nails and play with them.

I also think Rosie’s brother Billy will enjoy these films too and I’m thinking of proposing Polar Express for Christmas Eve

polar expressPolar Express

It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re about to roller-coaster up and down mountains, slip-slide over ice fields, tetter across mile-high bridges and be served hot chocolate by singing waiter more astonishing than any you can ever imagine. You’re on The Polar Express!

Tom Hanks stars in and Robert Zemeckis directs this instant holiday classive filmed in dazzling performance-capture animation that makes every home magical.

dark knight rises

The Dark Knight

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.

But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.

new year's eve

New Year’s Eve

“New Year’s Eve” celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh
starts, with intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.

Personally I think there’s something here for the whole family to share some great sofa surfing moments surfing the best time of the year, can’t wait to put them on, how about you? do you have some special DVD’s lined up for the hols?

Best wishes for a marvellous Christmas